Interview with Meredith Host: ceramics, zombies and candy..oh my!

Many of you may have read my previous blog post about the cool zombie themed items by Folded Pigs on Etsy. Well, the artist Meredith Host was very nice to give us a full interview about her love of ceramic arts, zombie movies and the scary bedtime stories that inspired her zombie line!

Tell us about your work. What kind of things do you make?

My foldedpigs ware: I make quirky functional ceramic dishes. I use porcelain restaurant ware and make homemade decalsfor the surface decoration. After the decals are applied, the dishes are re-fired to 1990 degrees so that the decals are fused into the dish surface, making them completely food safe. The decal images and sayings are brownish red in color. Forms range from mugs, plates, bowls, to serving dishes and all come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

My studio work: I make quirky functional ceramic dishes. My dishes are wheel thrown or slipcast porcelain and fired in a cone 6 oxidation firing. I use a combination of surface decorating techniques, which include (but are not limited to) slip, underglaze, thermofax and gocco screening, decals, stencils, and glaze. Most pieces are one of a kind. Once again, forms range from tumblers, cups and saucers, bowls, plates, jars, to serving dishes and all come in a variety of shapes sizes, and colors.

What inspires you when you are designing?

I thrive on blood, guts and candy! A lot of my inspirations have attraction and repulsion qualities. I love using bright, flashy candy colors in conjunction with seemingly unsavory or vulgar surface decoration. Grotesque beauty is a quality I strive for! My aim is to reveal a playful sense of humor with a penchant for the bizarre. Inspiration list (not complete): sugar, human and animal anatomy, horror, bright colors, clip art, textile patterns, kitsch, humor, elegant design, polka dots, raw meat…Eva Zeisel is my ceramic/design hero.

Your Etsy products seem to revolve around horror or zombie themes. Are there any movies/novels/artists that inspired you to make your zombie line of products?

My grandmother introduced me to the horror genre at a very early age. My bedtime stories consisted of her recounting the plots of horror movies such as Poltergeist and Psycho. I became hooked. I enjoy all types of horror from the humorous to psychological to the gruesome gorefests. As far as Zombie related movies go, I love Fulci’s Zombi 2 (Zombie) and, of course, the Romero zombies hold a special place in my heart. Bub from Day of the Dead is my all time favorite zombie. My “i love you more than zombies love brains” tagline is referencing the movie Return of the Living Dead, which is the first time we get the zombie loving brains theme. The zombies actually vocalize that they need and want to eat brains. In Return of the Living Dead Part 2, there is a line that has stuck with me ever since I heard it as a kid. A boyfriend who is already zombified is trying convince his still living girlfriend to let him eat her brains. “Ooooh Brenda, your brains smell so good – so rich and spicy.”

You just finished your MFA in Ceramics. Congrats! What was the focus of you work for your thesis?

My MFA thesis show body of work is titled “Residue” and focused on handmade dinnerware based on cleanliness/sanitation and anxiety at the table. Some of my white on white patterned dishes are completely clean while others have “contaminants”. I made my false contaminants (hair, crusty food bits, fingerprints, sponge swipes, lipstick stains, mouse turds, etc.) to suggest the surfaces are infected, but in reality, these dishes are sterile and safe to use. The subtle residue and crusts are made using ceramic processes (glaze, decals, luster, and high-fired terracotta) making them a permanent part of the dinnerware. I created a Hitchcockian-like psychological thriller dinner party scenario. I am the director, setting up a scene, waiting for the discovery to be made. Who will be the first to discover something? How will they react?

My MFA show statement:
A thin dark hair emerges into your sight from underneath the green beans. You notice a spot of residue on the dinner plate and a stain on the rim of a cup. A gut reaction of repulsion sets in. You start looking closer. The white on white dinnerware patterns of stripes and polka dots can subtly shift to barcodes and sink drains. Are you just being paranoid or is that a dirty fingerprint? What is really clean?

Do you feel that your fine art ceramic work and the Folded Pigs shop are essentially the same or you do distinguish between those two parts of your artistic life?

I do distinguish between the two. I think they have common themes but present them in different ways. I’m glad I’m able to make a product using my ceramic skills that helps pay the bills and allows me to make my fine art ceramic work. The foldedpigs ware helped subsidize my living expenses and material costs while being in grad school. Now that I’m finished with school, I plan on splitting my time between making the foldedpigs ware and my studio one-of-a-kind work without having to get another job. I think it’s pretty amazing to get to do something I love everyday!

What do you enjoy the most about ceramics as an artistic medium?

I started taking ceramic classes at age 11 and it turned into the thing I couldn’t live without. It’s a material I’m truly comfortable using…I know the ceramic process really well and the possibilities are endless!

Above: Inside Meredith’s studio

List the TOP 5 current favorite artists/Crafters on Etsy?

There are some amazing ceramic stores on Etsy! Here are my recommendations in alphabetical order:
binger.etsy.com
lusterbunny.etsy.com
naomiclearyceramics.etsy.com
nonfictiondesign.etsy.com
pauldonnelly.etsy.com

What advice do you have for others who may want to start a business like yours?

Make a product that ultimately you would like to buy! High quality craftsmanship, and great customer service are key! Save all your receipts and keep decent record of sales. Also carry business cards…you just never know who you’ll run into.

Where can we see your artwork and find your products for sale?

My foldedpigs ware can be found at foldedpigs.etsy.com and currently in a few stores: Wholly Craft in Columbus, OH and Art Star Boutique in Philadelphia. I just started a studio blog for my fine art ceramic work. It’s somewhat of a virtual sketchbook. meredithhost.blogspot.com I am about to start a new Etsy shop of my studio work so be sure to check out meredithhost.etsy.com – it’s coming soon! My work is sold in a few galleries as well. The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Red Star Studios in Kansas City, Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, Pewabic Pottery in Detroit, Worcester Center for Crafts in Worcester, MA, and the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA.

Comments

  1. says

    As a fan and owner of a Folded Pigs piece, it was really nice to see an article on Meredith and see all of her work. She also had super etsy shop suggestions that I gave hearts to.

  2. says

    Looking for ceramic candy dishes – fairly large – that spell out L O V E. Separate dishes for each letter. We want to use this for a candy buffet at our son’s wedding. Any ideas where I might find such a thing? Thanks! Cindia

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